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Altai Tavan Bogd National Park

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{{pagebanner|Altai Tavan Bogd National Park Banner.jpg}} '''[ Altai Tavan Bogd National Park]''' is located on the Western most point of [[Mongolia]] in [[Bayan-Ulgii|Bayan-Ulgii Province]]. This vast mountainous park borders China and Russia with views of Kazakhstan from the highest peak in Mongolia.
[[File:Tavan Bogd Mountain.jpg|thumb|Tavan Bogd Mountain]]The snow-capped Kuiten Uul mountain,4374 m (14,201 ft), is the highest of the five peaks of Tavan Bogd Mountains (literally '5 Saints') that gives the park its name. It covers an area of 630,000 hectarce and is home to three large freshwater lakes and 34 glaciers, plus several waterfalls. The largest, Pontuninii Glacier, covers 23 sq km. Tavan Bogd Mountains are considered sacred to local Kazakhs, Tuvans, and Mongolians. The park stretches from Russia along the Chinese border, following the Altai Mountain Range that divides China, Russia, Mongolia, and Kazakhstan, for over 200 km. Ancient tribes have left many artifacts, using the region for religious ceremonies. Today, tens of thousands of petroglyphs in the park are part of a [[UNESCO World Heritage List|World Heritage Site]]. In addition there are numerous Turkic Stone Men and stone burial mounds. [ Official Tourism Website].
The '''busy season''' is from June to October when temperatures are warmer, snow has melted, and tour camps and shuttles are operating. The busiest time is August and September when the weather is best for mountain climbing. Also around the eagle festivals when tourist add a trip to the countryside. Though the park is still accessible year round with activities like snow skiing and eagle hunting during the cold winter months.
The Altai Mountains have been inhabited for around 12,000 years. The oldest images in the park are from 11,000 to 6,000 BC with hunting large mammals and ancient cultures. Thousands of years of petroglyphs show the transition from hunter-gatherer to pastoralism and later to the current semi-nomadic that developed over the last 3,000 to 4,000 years. Around 4,000 years ago, the use of horses and domestication of animals led to the rise of the Blue Turks (whose language is the root of Kazakh and Turkish). These successful warriors left upright carved stone statues known as Turkic Stone Men spread over the Altai Mountains.
Later in 700 BC, a group of horse-riding warrior nomads known as the Scythians starting from the Altai Mountains to conquer a region stretching to the Black Sea. They faded after being defeated by Alexander the Great in modern day Turkmenistan in 329BC, but not before leaving many stone burial mounds in the Altai. These mounds, or Khirigsuur, were designed to preserve bodies in frozen ground with horses, weapons, armor, and food for the afterlife. On One such mound was discovered to contain a Scythian warrior in full battle regalia in a 2005 research expedition. In 100 AD, the Huns migrated through the region from the steppes of Mongolia to wreck havoc on Europe around 400 AD. Around this same time, Reindeer herding tribes from Siberia, called Tuvans, began expanding south into the mountains.
The mountains and much of the surrounding region including the early Silk Road to the south fell under control of Turkic-Uighur Khannate (kingdom) after 600 AD until Genghis Khan conquered it along with most of Asia from 1260. The Uighurs and Turks were incorporated into the army of the Khan. After Genghis death, the empire was divided between his sons, with the Altai forming the border between the Golden Horde (Russia), Chagatai Khan (Central Asia), and Yuan Dynasty (China). The region changed hands several times due to infighting and dividing territories the Mongol Empire declined. The region fell under control of the Yuan Dynasty until they declined in 1370. The region was then ruled by independent Oirat Mongol tribes until conquered by the Qing Dynasty in 18th Century.
[[File:Horgan Lake.jpg|thumb|Horgan Lake]]
Altai Tavan Bogd has some of the most stunning scenery in all of Mongolia with towering white mountains, glaciers, deep lush valleys, and large lakes. The park is divided into 2 regions, the Tavan Bogd Mountains in the northwest and the Lakes Region to the southeast. The park stretches along the Chinese border from the Russian border to 200 km south following the Altai Mountains, which form the borders of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, and Mongolia. Glacial melt and annual snow fall supplies 3 large lakes inside the park that form the head waters of the Hovd River.
== Get in ==
[[File:Altai tavan bogd national park region map.svg|thumb|Altai tavan bogd national park region map]]
Altai Tavan Bogd is 180 km from the provincial capital of [[Ölgii]]. You will have to start in the city unless you are going with a tour operator that gets the permits in advance. It will take 7 hour with stops (5 hours non-stop) due to the rough , non-existent roads, high mountain passes, and lack of bridges, though a very scenic drive. Most visitors to the park go as part of a tour group or with a guide, though plenty go without one.
===By Shuttle===
Two tour Those companies offer shuttle services to either the Tavan Bogd North Ranger Station, which is 20 km from the Tavan Bogd Mountains Base Camp, or the Syrgil Syrgali Rangers Station between the 2 lakes. These are offered during the busy season from June to October.
*'''Wonderful Mongolia Travel''' []provides cheap and affordable car services to Tavan Bogd National Park and organizes trekking, horse riding,mountaineering and nomadic lifestyle tours. The ideal tour company for backpackers and budget travelers.
*'''Western Mongolia Tour LLC''' [] Manages private transport to Altai Tavan Bogd national park. Besides of transportation this travel agency can manage national park permissions and guiding services as well.
*'''Blue Wolf Travel''' [] provides transfers to the Tavan Bogd on Wednesdays and Sundays and from the park on Mondays and Fridays. The shuttle to Tsambagarav is on Wednesday and Saturday and from the park on Wednesday and Sunday.
*'''Kazakh Tour''' [] has shuttles to the both sides of the park each Sunday, the Tavan Bogd Mountains Ranger Station and the bridge between Khoton and Khurgan Lakes (hiking or horse ride between these two places is a popular trek). The van is $214 divided by each passenger (up to 8). Shuttle begins on June 22nd.
*'''Bulbul Jamak Travel''' [] provides transfer between Altai Tavan Bogd nat.park,syrgali area and Ulgii trekking, horse riding and provides trip equipments, border permits.
===By Foot===
===Cultural Experiences===
Visiting nomadic families inside the part park is an obligatory part of any visit to the park , and is possible both summer and winter. Even if you have visited families elsewhere in Mongolia, it is worth seeing Kazakh and Tuvan families. You can stop by for milky tea or a meal while on a trek, or stay the night. Some of the Kazakhs are eagle hunters, and you can ask to hold the eagles or watch their training during the summer months. Or you can watch the daily routine of a real nomad of herding animals, milking goats and horses, gathering dung, cooking, and cleaning. Depending on time of year, you get to see them move camp (which takes a day to break, move, and set up camp). The generous hospitality of locals has long been a draw to the park, though you should be prepared to give gifts of money or household goods. They are hosting tourists throughout the summer so they can't be too generous. Both Kazakhs and Tuvans speak different languages, that most Mongol tour guides don't understand.
===Summer Activities===
===Tour Guides===
There is not a lot of infrastructure in Mongolia in general, and Bayan-Ölgii especially. There are no paved roads or many places to stay or eat or even buy food outside of the provincial capital. The park is completely pristine, without even borders fences between Russia and China. Therefore most visitors use one of the several tour groups located in [[Ölgii]] for transportation, camping equipment, food, and guides. The largest companies offer unguided tour options to the main National Parks with only transportation and supplies, but no guide, cook, or other services. While other activities like mountain climbing, whitewater rafting, or going with an eagle hunter on a hunt will require a guide for most people.
*'''Altai Expeditions''' (+976 9942 7003) [] provides fishing, bird watching, mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding, jeep, hiking, whitewater rafting, and mountain climbing. The owner, Bekbolat, is a expert mountain climber and whitewater rafting guide. They operate a ger camp and restaurant in Ölgii.
*'''Blue Wolf Travel''' (+976 9493 4994) [] is a large tour operator in Bayan-Ölgii, with ger camps in Sagsai and Ölgii, scheduled shuttle services to Tavan Bogd and Tsambagarav National Parks, tours in Russia, China, and Kazakhstan Altai regions, a wide selection of tours including unguided tours, and the only snow skiing trips in Western Mongolia.
*'''Kazakh Tours''' (+976 9942 2006) [] offers a broad selection of tour packages and services, including scheduled shuttle services to Tavan Bogd and unguided tours. Their tours offer many exciting activities such as fishing, bird watching, eagle hunting, mountain climbing, and whitewater rafting. There office is located in the Central Square directly across from BU Palace.
{{IsPartOf|Western Mongolia}}
[[it:Parco Nazionale Altai Tavan Bogd]]

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